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George R. R. Martin’s Epic Charity Campaign Going Strong

Win A Wolf Sanctuary Tour and Helicopter Ride with George R.R. Martin - YouTubeWho better to raise money for a wolf sanctuary than the resurrector of direwolves himself, George R. R. Martin? And what better way to encourage donations than to offer fans a chance to die at the author’s hands like so many of their beloved characters (not to mention the dozens of extras who died during last night’s half-hour battle)?

So far, over $300,000 has been raised by Martin’s four-day-old campaign to support the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary and The Food Depot of Santa Fe, and two people have already won the highest honor (their very own grisly deaths being written into the next book) by each donating $20,000 to the cause. But if you couldn’t quite afford such a hefty sum, fret not!

With just over $150,000 to go before Martin’s $500,000 goal is met, there are still some epic prizes up for grabs as of this writing, including a hand-written thank-you note ($1,200 donation), a signed and dedicated Game of Thrones book ($600 donation), and T-shirts and other memorabilia for smaller donations. Plus, each donor is automatically entered to win the grand prize: a helicopter ride to the wolf sanctuary with the famed author himself. Martin describes the future excursion this way: Read more

Stephen Colbert Gives Amazon a Piece of His Mind

Amazon has been receiving more than its share of bad publicity over its little war against publisher Hachette–and thanks to Stephen Colbert and author Sherman Alexie, the company got a bit more unflattering attention last night.

The interview is worth a watch. We particularly like Alexie’s point that pre-release publicity determines the sales numbers for a given book–a message that will be very relevant to anyone who does PR for the literary world.

We’re not big conspiracy theorists, but we do find it strange that the segment preceding that interview, in which Colbert expounds on the conflict, is currently unavailable–and that Amazon signed a streaming content deal with Comedy Central exactly one year ago.

At any rate, fret not: Powell’s and Alexie did indeed receive the famous “Colbert bump” last night.

Small victories.

FCC Flooded With Comments After John Oliver Tackles Net Neutrality

FCC Flooded With Comments After John Oliver Tackles Net Neutrality - PRNewserOn Sunday night’s episode of “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver gave an impassioned thirteen-minute speech about the FCC’s controversial net neutrality proposal, which, in case you haven’t been paying attention, would allow internet service providers like Comcast, Verizon and other giants to charge companies and websites for “fast lanes” to the web, which could leave smaller websites, companies, and online publications that can’t afford to pay in the “slow lane,” effectively doing away with the equally accessible level playing field that allows all online data to be treated equally, no matter who creates it.

Oliver said of the proposal:

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NRA Wants Journos to Stop Using the Word ‘Shooter’ to Describe Shooters

Here’s an unusual look at media relations efforts from an organization that uses every opportunity to brand “the media” as its enemy.

You might think that the NRA, as the nation’s largest gun owner advocacy organization, would have issued some sort of response to the latest act committed by a crazy guy with a gun. Instead, we have this piece of communications work bemoaning journalists’ supposed insistence on providing meat for their frothing-at-the-mouth anti-gun base by insisting on referring to people who kill other people with guns as “shooters” rather than “murderers.”

It’s an odd semantic complaint that reveals more than a bit of the organization’s underlying strategy: every report not created internally by the NRA itself is not to be trusted.

It’s almost like the org’s op-ed contributor is anticipating the ways in which various journalists will describe the next mass shooting and telling his listeners to ignore it as propaganda (not that he created this segment to “support a cause”).

It’s true that we may not be the world’s most receptive audience, but the NRA has a vested long-term interest in convincing the majority of Americans that its members are not the paranoid, trigger-happy caricatures the “media” seems so desperate to lead us to believe they are (according to the NRA itself).

We’re not 100% sure that this is the best way to go about it.

Imgur, Reddit and Boing Boing Launch Anti-NSA Campaign

Reset the Net

This coming Thursday, June 5, major websites including Reddit, Imgur, Boing Boing and others plan to take part in a collective effort to push back against government surveillance online.

The “Reset The Net” campaign, coordinated by Fight for the Future, will feature multiple websites showing a splash screen to all visitors, encouraging them to install privacy and encryption tools. Meanwhile, other sites plan to bone up their own privacy by enabling standards like HTTPS, which stops outside parties from “listening in” on what site users are up to.

General Manager of Reddit, Erik Martin, said of his company’s decision to join the campaign, “We can take back control of our personal and private data one website, one device, one internet user at a time. We’re proud to stand up for our users’ rights and help Reset the Net.” Read more

PSA Turns Passed-Out Drunks into Human Billboards

If you thought the ritual of writing shaming, embarrassing things on passed-out drunk people was relegated to college parties, you’d be mistaken. Now two major ad agencies in Japan are doing virtually the same thing, but for a good cause.

In partnership with Yaocho, one of the biggest bar chains in Tokyo, Ogilvy & Mather and Geometry Global have created a campaign aimed at discouraging Japanese citizens from getting so blitzed that they pass out and sleep in the streets. And what better way to dissuade such behavior than creating a shaming, public spectacle out of those who fail to excercise better judgement?

Such unfortunate, inhibriated individuals are marked with the hashtag #NOMISUGI, which translates to “too drunk,” and surrounded by a square of white tape. All over Japan, passersby have been Instagram-ing images of these human billboards, creating a viral PSA of sorts. While we agree with AdWeek that it’s difficult to tell whether these individuals truly draped themselves so horrendously on subway staircases and on sidewalks or whether the scenes have been staged, the campaign still sends a clear message: Behave, or risk becoming our next literal poster child for poor decision making.

Just some food for thought to get your weekend off to a somewhat-honorable start…

This Week’s Most Bizarre Branding Move: Axe’s Pheromone-Infused Business Cards. Gag.

In case Axe‘s incredibly misogynistic and epically douchey ads and overpowering fragrances don’t make you gag enough, here comes the brand’s newest campaign: “Pheromone Business Cards.”

In the promo video below, we see “Axe associates” (every frat boy’s dream job) working out while wearing sweatbands. The secretions collected in the bands (ugh, I can’t even write this without nearly losing my breakfast) are then extracted by “scientists” who go about “isolating their essence, distilling it into a concentrated solution that could only have come from that specific axe associate.” That solution is then infused into business cards stamped with the gross proclamation, “Infused with the essence of (name here).”

The idea, as the spot explains, was to create a business card that goes beyond communicating an associate’s contact information, and instead “communicates the very essence of that person’s attraction.” As such, it’s designed to be “a card that may attract more than just business for our associates.”

Yeah. Like a slap to the face and panicked use of hand sanitizer.

10 out of 10 Kids Agree: New McDonald’s Mascot Is ‘Creepy’

This week McDonald’s brought a new mascot out of hiding (he’d been hanging out in Europe) and introduced him/her/it to American audiences. Media folks on Twitter predictably responded with mockery, and some wiseguy with too much free time on his hands even created a parody account:

Now, via Grub Street New York, we have the answer to the question that you hopefully haven’t been asking yourself all week: what will the kids think?!

Take it away, focus group A!

The best quote is also the most overly dramatic:

“People are going to make a joke out of it and it’s going to totally ruin their business.”

We certainly wouldn’t go that far, but we do think we know someone who has a future in market research…

BAD PR: John Oliver’s GM Parody Highlights Real, Disturbing Details of Internal Company Practices

Let’s play a little game of word association, shall we? What comes to mind when you think of the following words: deathtrap; decapitating; grenade-like; powder keg; and rolling sarcophagus? If your answer to any of these is “a car made by General Motors,” then an internal GM memo specifically banning the use of these words (and over fifty others) must have failed.

This past Sunday on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver delivered a scathing breakdown of a decade’s worth of disturbing internal PR practices at GM, and then — as the final nail in the rolling sarcophagus — showed a pitch-perfect parody of a GM ad. And in case not enough people subscribe to HBO for this clip to contribute to the company’s already-sticky PR problem, the network has made the video available on YouTube (where it has already been watched almost 700,000 times).

Just like in Shakespeare, the fool often speaks the truth more boldly and honestly than anyone else, and in this case, while viewers may be laughing (we certainly are), they are most definitely not laughing with GM.

Humanitarian Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe Pushes For More Hashtag Activism: ‘We Must Shout #BringBackOurGirls’

michelle obama bringbackourgirlsConservative pundits have been denouncing the #BringBackOurGirls hacktivism as a pointless and nonsensical exercise. Rush Limbaugh called it a “pathetic” move by the “low-information crowd.” Ann Coulter tried to mock the whole thing with her own take on the issue. And got mocked. (Hilarious. Personal favorite right here.) And George Will called it simply “an exercise in self-esteem.”

Humanitarian Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe has a different take on the issue. She is a recent addition to the Time 100 for her work as the founder of the Saint Monica Girls’ Tailoring Center in Uganda, a place for girls who have suffered sexual assault and exploitation. Sister Nyirumbe says this sort of online movement is important in cases where an issue would not otherwise get the attention it needs for change to occur. She paid a visit to The Colbert Report last night to talk about the book and documentary she’s the subject of, Sewing Hope, but to also talk up the virtues of hashtag activism like #BringBackOurGirls.

“It’s the best we can do and we we haven’t done enough,” she said. “… We must shout ‘Bring back our girls.’”

She also said she would punch Stephen Colbert.

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